Is Chevy’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Jeep’s?

Which is safer? Chevy Trax or Jeep Compass. Jeep earned a top IIHS safety pick, while the Trax didn't make the list. Safety features can lower auto insurance rates by up to 8%.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Apr 21, 2020

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Things to remember...
  • Chevrolet was established in 1911 and was initially known to be one of America’s best mid-priced truck manufacturer
  • Consumers comparing different modern small SUV models should always compare safety ratings through IIHS
  • In 2015, Chevy released the compact Trax SUV to appeal to consumers looking for an efficient yet affordable SUV
  • The 2017 Chevy Trax has earned top-notch IIHS crash test scores but earned the lowest crash avoidance rating possible
  • After comparing the 2017 Chevy Trax to the 2017 Jeep Compass, test results show that Jeep makes the safer SUV


Chevrolet has always prided itself in producing automobiles that are American-made. From the first pickup truck that debuted in 1918, to the Suburban released in 1935, which remains the longest-running nameplate in the industry, the inspiration behind every model has been to produce reliable vehicles domestically that the domestic population wants to drive.

Chevy has had sizable campaigns over the years that focused on building rugged models, one of the most memorable was ‘Like a Rock’.

While that is still much of the longstanding manufacturer’s focus, the company’s new ‘Chevy runs deep’ campaign highlights that the company is taking the brand to the next level by offering cars and SUVs the market wants.

When trends in the market identified that more of the population wants small SUVs, Chevy answered by debuting the Chevy Trax in 2015.

The Trax is a small five-seater SUV for entry-level buyers who don’t want to have to miss on features. There are now 4 model years of the Trax, none of which have been redesigned from the first generation prototype.

What to Consider Before Buying a Small SUV

You can’t look at a vehicle and tell with the naked eye whether or not it’s designed with safety in mind. Roll cages, reinforced components, and other exterior features may make the vehicle look safer, but there’s a lot more to it than the eye of the beholder is capable of processing.

Small SUVs may offer more space and seating capacity than a sedan or a compact car but that doesn’t mean that every model protects occupants the same.

It’s not out of the norm for compact SUVs to perform better in front crash tests than cars, but it’s crucial that you’re only referencing tests performed to simulate an accident with a similar-sized vehicle. These are the tests that will help you make the most informed buying decision.

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Understanding IIHS Safety Ratings

If you’re reading crash test ratings from an organization that doesn’t take into account sizing and physics when simulating crashes, you won’t get very reliable ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety knows this and that’s why the non-profit organization considers all variables before simulating a collision in the IIHS Crash Hall.

The IIHS was formed in 1959 by three different insurance associations. The idea was to support highway safety projects and to identify ways to reduce losses reported in accidents.

One way to do this was to research vehicles and crash them to measure damage. It wasn’t until 1995 that the IIHS officially came up with a safety rating system by vehicle class.

What types of tests does the IIHS perform?

When the Vehicle Research Center was first constructed, there wasn’t nearly the level of technology that there is today. That’s why the only test that was performed on vehicles made in the early 90’s was the Moderate Overlap Front crash test. Then, more and more tests where designed.

All of the tests that are performed today include:

  • Small overlap front (driver-side)
  • Small overlap front (passenger-side)
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side strength
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints
  • Front crash avoidance and mitigation
  • Headlight performance
  • Child seat latching system ease of use

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What is a good IIHS rating?

Not all vehicles are tested by the IIHS but a good majority are. After the test subject is taken off of the Crash Floor, it is assessed. Measurements are taken and the dummies will be inspected to see how injured they might have been would they have been human.

All of the data collected helps the scientists assign ratings used by insurers, consumers, and automakers.

Here’s a list of the ratings:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Frontal Crash Prevention and Crash Avoidance – Superior, Advanced, or Basic

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Chevy Trax

  • Small overlap front crash (driver-side)– Good
  • Small overlap front crash (passenger-side)– Acceptable
  • Moderate overlap front crash– Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head Restraints and Seats– Good
  • Front Crash Avoidance and Prevention – Basic (with optional equipment)
  • Headlight performance – N/A
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Acceptable

The 2017 Chevy Trax performed well in crash tests but didn’t earn high enough scores to be classified as a Top Safety Pick. All around, the Trax has earned the top grades in all areas of crash tests except for on the passenger-side test.

In this area, the vehicle earned only ‘Acceptable’ scores due to excessive forward movement of the dummy’s head in the crash.

The 2017 Trax hasn’t had much time to improve since its debut but it also earned low marks in Front Crash Prevention. Earning just 1 point out of 6 for forward collision warning features, the Trax is given a ‘Basic’ crash avoidance score. The vehicle was tested before headlight performance tests were even rolled out.

Safety Ratings for the 2017 Jeep Compass

  • Small overlap front crash (driver-side)– Good
  • Small overlap front crash (passenger-side)– N/A
  • Moderate overlap front crash– Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head Restraints and Seats– Good
  • Front Crash Avoidance and Prevention – Superior (with optional equipment)
  • Headlight performance – Marginal (with optional equipment)
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Poor

The Jeep Compass has been around much longer than the Trax. This gives Jeep a leg up on the competition and time for trial and error. That’s why the 2017 Jeep Compass is a 2017 Top Safety Pick. Jeep earned ‘Good’ ratings in each crash test performed which excludes the driver-side test.

Models that were built after December of 2016 earned an amazing 6 out of 6 points in Front Crash Prevention. The forward collision warning, low-speed auto brake, and high-speed auto brake features all scored as high as they could.

Sadly, the Compass earned a ‘Poor’ rating in ease of use for the child seat system. The reason noted was because the tethers were too deep in the seat and hard to maneuver around.

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Are small SUVs by Chevy safer than small SUVs by Jeep?

When you’re asking a general question like this, you’ll have to consider only facts from a certain year. When considering compact SUVs from 2017, Jeep actually makes the safer model of the year over Chevy. Jeep has better overall scores and the Compass was chosen to be a 2017 Top Safety Pick.

If you’re looking to buy a Jeep or a Chevy, always check safety ratings first. After you’ve done this, you can check to see how much it will cost to insure your prospective car. Use an online quoting tool and you can pull up the quotes quickly and easily from home.

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